Lake Oroville reaches peak for the year

OROVILLE — Lake Oroville likely reached its limit last month when lake levels lingered at slightly less than 777 feet.

The Department of Water Resources said the lake hit its peak storage for this water year on May 8 measuring at 776.95 feet elevation and 1.94 million-acre feet — about 400,000 acre-feet higher than the peak in 2021.

“The water year ends on Sept. 30 and it is unlikely we will see significant rainfall before that time,” DWR officials said in an email.

The Lake Oroville Visitor Center is seen from the vantage point of its tower June 16, 2022 in Oroville, California. (Michael Weber/Enterprise-Record) 

DWR said the higher peak lake level this year can be attributed to a record-setting atmospheric river in October 2021 and a robust snowfall in December 2021.

The lake is still below the average peak for the season, DWR said, as the north state saw below average precipitation this year and experienced its driest January, February and March in 100 years.

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Lake levels on Friday measured 766 feet, about 68 feet higher than the level in 2022 and 43 feet lower than level measured in 2022.

All four paved boat ramps at the Lake Oroville State Recreation Area are currently active, DWR said and that the lake level is anticipated to fall around 675 feet allowing the boat ramp at Bidwell Canyon to remain in use.

On Aug. 5, 2021, the Edward Hyatt Powerplant — which sits beneath Oroville Dam — was shut off for the first time in its history as water levels fell to 641.93 feet nearing the minimum amount of water required for operation.

DWR said it anticipates the power plant to be able to continue its hydropower generation for the remainder of the year.